(*Stop me if you’ve heard this one.*) Two empty suits get rolled into a hotel ballroom …

8955985-suits-on-the-rack-isolated-on-white--Stock-Photo-hanger-clothes-suitWe get a lot of interesting folks who pass through here in lil’ ol’ Pinehurst.  I’ve had the chance to become acquainted with a WWE wrestler / performer who spends some of his downtime here.  (I occasionally bump into him in the local fitness center.)

One day at the gym, I was about to step on  treadmill, and noticed that someone had left the TV in front of me tuned to wrestling.  By coincidence, it happened to be a match featuring my friend.  By an even bigger coincidence, my wrestler friend happened to be using a nearby treadmill.  

On the screen, I could see my friend’s opponent beating him mercilessly in the head with a metal folding chair while the audience cheered maniacally. I then looked across the room at my friend and noticed the serious lack of ANY evidence of ANY injury in the area of his head.

I then pointed at the TV and asked my friend WHEN that match occurred.   Oh, he said, it was last night.   

He looked a lot better than I would have if I had been viciously beaten in the head with a metal chair the previous evening.  *Yeah, wrestling is REAL.*

roy-cooper-and-pat-mccrory-x750This year’s election reminds me an awful lot of professional wrestling.  The campaign features an awful lot of noise and drama, but — in reality — the players don’t hate each other and are not all that much different. You pick your champion in the ring, cheer your head off for them, and then the match is over.  You had your chance to get excited, but what real difference did the whole exercise make in your life? 

It’s hard for me to see how much better off we’d be with a reelected Richard Burr than with Deborah Ross.  It’s also tough to see the importance of giving Pat McCrory four more years in that big house on Blount Street.

Friday’s debate with Roy Cooper in front of the state Bar Association reinforced that. 

LEADERSHIP. (REALLY? THAT’S WHAT WE’RE GOING WITH?)  Roy Cooper has been running for governor since the polls closed in November 2012.  He bumbled and fumbled so badly with the SBI and the crime lab the legislature took it all away from him.cooper He’s stepped in front of the cameras at the last minute to take credit for corruption busts that someone else did all the legwork on.  He’s refused to represent the state in court when the marriage amendment and HB2 have been attacked in court.  And he wants us to promote him so he can show us some of his “leadership.”

And, unfortunately, our friend Pat is not much better off. He’s been rolled and sat in the corner by the legislature for the past four years.  He’s ignored so many local GOP organizations that worked hard for him in 2012, and put administration appointments up for sale to the highest bidder.  (An AMAZING amount of Democrats have been awarded appointments and favors from this administration.)

McCrory had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward saying NO to ObamaCare implementation.  He’s griped about spending and tax cuts.  He’s stood with the big spending ways of House GOP leadership against the more restrained, conservative Senate GOPers.

He’s made some good appointments — Frank Perry at DPS and Dale Folwell at the employment security commission, for example — whose accomplishments have provided most of the administration’s positive talking points this campaign season.  Much of the other positive things — tax cuts, economic growth — have come from Jones Street.

HB2. In the debate, Cooper trotted out the same tired talking points the drivebys have been pounding on for weeks and months.  Funny, though — he didn’t say a word about all of the 636x460design_01effort he’s put into encouraging businesses to protest and boycott North Carolina.  *You know, the state he wants to govern.*

I have to give major props and kudos to the governor for how he’s handling HB2.  Parents don’t want a boy, who thinks he’s a girl, but has a boy’s anatomy, going into the bathroom or shower or locker room with their daughters.  

Consultants and pollster-types I’ve talked with say THAT spin is really resonating with a majority of the voters out there.  They tell me it seems to be taking a lot of the wind out of the sails of the anti-HB2 juggernaut.

I think Team McCrory is on to something here.  His defense of HB2 is about the only thing keeping a lot of conservatives in his camp.  Keep it going. 

THE BLAME GAME. Ol’ Pat sure played into the AG’s hands at one point in Friday’s debate.  Cooper had been hammering the governor on taking responsibility for the good clownAND the bad — instead of taking credit for the good and finding someone to point the finger at when things don’t work.

In response to a question about cancelling the contract with a controversial Spanish firm to manage the I-77 toll lanes in Mecklenburg County, McCrory proceeded to pin blame on Cooper and the current and former mayors of Charlotte for the debacle.  Never mind that the McCrory administration worked hand-in-glove to shove the deal down the throats of angry North Meck residents.  

Cooper scored points by pointing out McCrory campaign flacks who went to work on behalf of the Spanish firm.  The whole exchange flew in the face of the McCrory spin about being an ”outsider” ready to tackle “the good ol’ boy network.”

56409910“EFFICIENT” GOVERNMENT.  Boy, that has an Orwellian ring to it, huh? But that was the mantra McCrory clung tightly to in the forum. The things McCrory cited as accomplishments he was most proud of — selling “airspace” in Charlotte to Raddison hotels, Charlotte light rail, and the ConnectNC bond deal, economic development incentives / corporate welfare  — surely produced as much nausea for other conservatives as it did for me.  (McCrory even mentioned to sneak in an endorsement of Richard Burr’s legislation to give law enforcement more power to read people’s emails.) 

schoolI, and a lot of other GOP base voters, would LOVE to hear some serious talk about putting government on a diet and returning more power to the people.

North Carolina is set up to offer a relatively weak governor and a much stronger legislature. It’s up to Team McCrory to explain to us how four more years of their guy PLUS a supermajority on Jones Street beats out four years of Gov. Roy Cooper sat in the corner and ignored by a GOP supermajority on Jones Street. 

Right now, it’s not looking like there’s a whole lot of difference between the two scenarios.